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In a move to prevent disasters like the one at the Fukushima power plant in 2011, nuclear scientists in Japan are planning a controlled reactor meltdown.

Using a scaled down version of a nuclear reactor, Tomoyuki Sugiyama, a senior scientist at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, said scientists “want to help improve the accuracy of the Fukushima accident analysis” using the data from their experiment.

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“We want to study exactly how meltdowns happen and apply what we will learn to help improve ways to deal with severe accidents in the future,” another spokesman for the government-backed engineering agency told Agence France Presse.

The experiment will test a small fuel rod in a very rapid fission process. The project will begin sometime later this year, the spokesman said.

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The Fukushima nuclear plant ended up crippled after a magnitude-9 earthquake followed by a huge tsunami sparked three nuclear meltdowns. As many as 300,000 people fled or voluntarily left their homes.

The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company or Tepco, also said nuclear-contaminated water spilled into the sea. Scientists are still recording nuclear radiation surrounding the plant and in the water.

The tsunami swept debris far inland and also out to sea — with some reaching the west coast of the U.S. months and years later.

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